January 6, 2021 was a sad and dark day in America, but some of the reporting of what happened has been off the mark. To make crystal clear up front: As many of us condemned the rioting in America from early June until now, we fully condemn those who broke the law at the Capitol. I did so on Facebook as soon as I learned about it. Whether by assaulting law enforcement or violating property, that behavior was inexcusable. The vast majority of those who took part in the rally were peaceful, but that gives no excuse for those who broke the law. Those actions are why the day was such a sad and dark one.
However, on the bias of reporting, I am not referring to the factual reporting of what actually occurred on video in the Capitol. That was appropriate and proper journalism. The problem came with the hyperbolic criticism that included the complete failure to provide any criticism regarding the actions and hypocrisy of Democratic leaders in Congress. Let me explain.
After what happened, I think the president would agree the rally got out of hand. This will serve as a black eye to his legacy as president in the years to come. However, the reporting of the president’s role has been wildly off the mark. When the president spoke to the crowd about walking over to Capitol Hill, his exact words about it were them acting “peacefully and patriotically.” In actuality, many of those who went in to the Capitol building were not even at his speech in front of the White House. Anderson Cooper at CNN spoke similarly to many mainstream reporters in alleging Trump “turned his mob on Capitol Hill” in a direct incitement of insurrection. Nancy Pelosi went further with the hyperbole claiming, “Yesterday, the president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America” in a “seditious act.” That charge was repeated and even exaggerated through various reporters throughout the coming days.
The hyperbolic charges are rich with hypocrisy coming from Democratic Congressional leaders like Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer. Trump condemned the violence and told protesters to go home that day. Yet, as Nick Arama of Red State noted about Democratic leaders including Pelosi and Schumer: “These are the same people who ignored attacks on federal buildings for the last several months because they were perpetrated by those on the left, ignored over 700 law enforcement officers being injured and over 32 people being killed. These are the same people who celebrated the BLM radicals at their Democratic convention. Kamala Harris and 13 Biden staffers even donated and encouraged people to donate to a fund to bail out rioters.”
Beyond the hypocrisy is a story ignored by the media about an arguably dangerous coup attempt on January 6 by Speaker Pelosi. As most are aware, the Constitution allows Congress to remove a president solely by way of impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate. This is to preserve the independent powers and checks and balances of the three branches of government. The Constitution also ensures civilian control of the military with the elected president as commander in chief, and the military subordinate to the president. Yet while Trump told his followers to act “peacefully and patriotically,” Speaker Pelosi attempted to foment and encourage a military coup against the president in violation of those Constitutional mandates.
According to the New York Times: “In a phone call to the Chairman, Gen. Mark A. Milley, Ms. Pelosi appeared to be seeking to have the Pentagon leadership essentially remove Mr. Trump from his authorities as the commander in chief … But General Milley appears to have made no commitments. Short of the cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment or removing Mr. Trump through impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate, it is unconstitutional to defy legal orders from the commander in chief … Mr. Trump, they noted, is still the commander in chief; unless he is removed, the military is bound to follow his lawful orders. While military officials can refuse to carry out orders they view as illegal — or slow the process by sending those orders for careful legal review — they cannot remove the president from the chain of command. That would amount to a military coup, the officials said.”
In addition to that attempted military overthrow, Speaker Pelosi attempted to coerce the vice president to use the 25th Amendment to remove the president from power. The provision of the 25th Amendment relevant to the decision of the vice president and a majority of the cabinet removing the president leaves no power in that decision to Congress. It is for incapacity, and not for allegations of wrongdoing.
As President Trump has stated, he is transitioning the office to Joe Biden on January 20. In the meantime, the hyperbole and misinformation in reporting about the president needs to stop, and Speaker Pelosi and others need to be called out for their unconstitutional overreach. Each branch of government should be respected. It’s time to rely upon God in getting us through these tough times, and not giving in to fear. “In God We Trust” is the motto we need to follow again.
Bill Connor, an Army Infantry colonel, author and Orangeburg attorney, has deployed multiple times to the Middle East. Connor was the senior U.S. military adviser to Afghan forces in Helmand Province, where he received the Bronze Star. A Citadel graduate with a JD from USC, he is also a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Army War College, earning his master of strategic studies. He is the author of the book Articles from War.